Speak up!

29 Aug

Recently I had some blood drawn and the following conversation took place between myself and the phlebotomist (PB)

PB: Name please
ME: Allison Margolies
PB: Date of Birth?
ME: 06/03/1980
PB: Allergies?
ME: Tegaderm tape and sulfur drugs
PB: What happens when you come into contact with Tegaderm?
ME: I get a very bad rash
PB: ok
PB takes blood (about 5 minutes) and is about to put a bandage on my wound
ME: Sir, is that Tegaderm tape you are about to put on my arm?
PB: Yes
ME; I am allergic
PB: Oh yes I am sorry

Fortunately, I avoided a horrible rash that would have attacked my whole body within minutes of the Tegaderm being applied. Unfortunately, I have half a dozen similar stories from multiple health care centers and hospitals.

Medical errors are one of the nation’s leading causes of death and injury. A recent report by the Institute of Medicine estimates that as many as 44,000 to 98,000 people die in U.S. hospitals each year as the result of medical errors. This means that more people die from medical errors than from motor vehicle accidents, breast cancer, or AIDS.[1]

I don’t tell you this to scare but rather to inform you that mistakes do happen in any and all healthcare environments. However there is some good news. You are your best advocate against preventing medical errors.

Here are some tips from the US Department of Health and Human Services (http://www.ahrq.gov/consumer/20tips.htm) to help you protect yourself against medical errors

Take an active role 

Research shows that patients who are involved with their care tend to get better results. SPEAK UP!  If you have questions ask your doctor, pharmacist or nurse.

Keep your doctor informed

When your doctor asks about medication make sure you let them know EVERY medicine or remedy you use. This includes both prescription and over-the-counter medicines such as vitamins and dietary supplements

Allergy alert

Always keep a list with you at all times of any allergies you have. I keep a list in my cell phone and my husband also has the list in his cell phone. Don’t assume your doctor knows and/or remembers what allergies you have.

Is it legible?
When your doctor writes you a prescription, make sure you can read it. If you can’t read your doctor’s handwriting, how is your pharmacist going to be able too?

Check drug, dosage

When you pick up your medicine from the pharmacy, ask: Is this the medicine that my doctor prescribed? Speak up if you have questions about the directions on your medicine labels.

Again the most important thing to remember is if something confuses you, don’t be afraid to speak up!!!


5 Responses to “Speak up!”

  1. alison nakash August 29, 2011 at 8:26 pm #

    Great tips!

  2. Jamie August 29, 2011 at 11:52 pm #

    Thanks for the excellent medical advice.

  3. Lindsay Cohen August 30, 2011 at 12:31 pm #

    Great advice, thanks!

  4. Cynthia September 9, 2011 at 8:00 am #

    Excellent information, Allison. Something we should all think about.

  5. Robert September 16, 2011 at 11:41 am #

    It’s so easy to make a mistake. I was giving a patient water through a straw and didn’t realize she was a choking risk. It’s a big no-no. The family spoke up and I felt like an idiot but I am glad they did!

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